reports of his lecture Woman, from Judaism
Khwaja Kamal-ud-Dins first letter mentioning
the proceedings of his lecture (Woman, from Judaism to
Islam at the Lyceum club, Piccadilly, London, 20th May
1913) appeared in the Ahmadiyya community newspaper Badr,
19th June 1913, on page 4. Addressed to Maulana Nur-ud-Din,
the letter begins as follows:
24 May 1913
To the honoured, guide and leader, may Allah keep
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatu-hu
Allah the Most High granted much favour, and there
was the prayer and attention of yourself. At last on 20 May
the lecture took place at the Lyceum club, Piccadilly, about
which I had asked for prayers. This was, in fact, my first
lecture in London, to ladies of high society. I was not overawed
by the country or nation. The delivery of my lecture and its
success were of the kind that used to happen in India. There
were more than fifty ladies, and some men.
The above letter then goes on mention his conversation
with a lady before the lecture. We omit this as it is given
in more detail in the following fuller report by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din.
This report appeared in Badr, 26th June 1913, pages
89, and is translated below.
My first lecture at the Lyceum
Club, Piccadilly, London
I had no need to write on this topic, but the conversations
I had with some upper class ladies both before and after this
lecture impelled me to pen these lines. This lecture was held
at a club of upper class ladies. The title was Woman, from
Judaism to Islam, in which I intended to show the position
of woman according to the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions.
I do not wish to say anything about the lecture as I have
already sent its Urdu translation to brother Dr. Mirza Yaqub
Baig for publication. It may be published soon, and those
interested can obtain it from him. [Note
1] It is enough to say that it was a successful lecture
and a source of astonishment and bewilderment to the audience
as to what they were hearing and what I was saying. I knew
well that, especially as regards rights of women, the prejudiced
Christian missionary groups had resorted to so much falsehood,
fabrication and vituperation here. So, instead of presenting
arguments, I mainly read out passages word for word from the
Torah, the Gospels and the Holy Quran, and made the necessary
deductions from them. It was this that caused astonishment
in the audience. Anyhow, I report here the conversation which
my friends should read carefully.
Honourable lady: Ever since I saw the notice
of this lecture, I have been greatly perplexed and my interest
has been increasing.
I: I regret that I needlessly caused you
distress and bewilderment.
Honourable lady: No, you dont understand.
Your topic is very difficult. I cannot understand how you
will serve the cause of your religion today.
I: The topic doesnt seem difficult
to me, and my religion is so clear, straightforward and plain
that it does not need my service.
Honourable lady: What I mean is, what status
will you today show that woman holds? Islam has not given
much of a status to woman. It will be a very difficult task
for you to show that it has given woman any status.
I: Now I understand your meaning. Will you
believe me if I tell you something? After listening to my
lecture today, you will be so grateful to my Holy Prophet
as to no other man who ever lived on earth because he gave
such high honour to womankind which no one before him or after
him till today has given her.
Honourable lady: True, it is possible. It
is now becoming known to us more and more daily that there
is much ignorance and misrepresentation about Islam.
Conversations with two or three other ladies were
also as above, in different words, so I do not repeat them
here. During the lecture some faces were a picture of amazement
and surprise, others were radiating happiness, while another
group was of a Christian missionary bent of mind. This group,
although small in number, included a professor, and they were
deeply worried. They saw that the lecturer not only tried
to establish the greatness of Islam but also assailed Christianity.
After the lecture I had a conversation with the
wife of a marquess. She said: I am especially grateful
for that part of your lecture in which you clearly showed
that Islam believes in the spiritual and moral progress of
woman, and holds that women have souls, because a few days ago I had
a big argument with someone on the point that Islam does not
deny that woman has a soul. His view was that Islam does not
accept that woman has a soul.”
An Englishman who holds an M.A. from the University
of Cambridge, and is an acquaintance of mine, sent me a message
expressing regret that he could not attend because the lecture
deserved to be criticised very greatly. Upon learning that
the lecture was successful and much liked, he became perplexed
because he had told a friend of mine that nothing had done
more injustice to woman than Islam and wherever this religion
went it took away the rights of woman.
The M.A. man should find, upon reading the lecture,
that it is his religion which destroyed the rights
of women and which taught as its essential beliefs that women
were unclean and polluted, and that the woman was organ
of the devil, the devils gateway,
the first sinner, the first deserter of the Divine law
who brought death and sin into the world. It is his religion
which, in order to justify the divinity of Jesus and the doctrine
of atonement, declared belief in inherited sin and laid the
guilt for that inheritance firmly and squarely on woman. Anyhow,
his eyes will be opened when he reads the lecture. If the
Christian religion is true and attaining salvation depends
upon accepting its doctrines, then salvation depends upon
believing woman to be the most sinful of creation! Islam is
the one and only religion that has done favour to woman. While
declaring this, it gives me pleasure to know that the audience
of this lecture included some prominent Muslim figures who
viewed my small service very favourably and urged me to distribute
this lecture widely in Arab countries.
To end, my purpose in writing these lines is to
show how much misrepresentation has been made against Islam,
while our Muslim brothers till today consider it enough just
to talk praisingly [about Islam] in their own gatherings in
order to gladden one anothers hearts.
Badr, 26 June 1913, pages 89.
A little later Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din made further
reference to the reaction to his lecture in one paragraph
within a letter published in Badr, 411th September
1913, pages 56. This is translated as follows:
The lecture in London
about women made a good impression at the time, so much so
that I was told by Mirza Abbas Ali Baig, member of the India
2] that a prominent noble lady said to him: If this man
keeps on lecturing like this, we cannot remain Christians
but must become Muslims. However, I have now learnt that the
council of the [Lyceum] club was, by majority of view, opposed
to it, even though the President was in my favour. I learnt
this from indications. It was thought that the speaker had
slaughtered Christianity and his purpose was to show the superiority
of Islam by degrading Christianity. It is true that my lecture,
in a way, did end on the note that if you want rights [for
women] you must leave Christianity and become Muslims. Anyhow,
truth is always bitter. It seems to me that the organisers
of the club were distressed. It also affected this princess.
I feel that what was said in the lecture was necessary, and
Mirza Abbas Baig, the member of the India Council, after expressing
much gratitude to me, said that he would not have been so
happy if I had not discussed the position of woman according
to Christianity. Anyhow, whatever happened was as God intended.
Notes by Website Editor
Note 1. It was
published in Badr, 1017th July 1913, pages 37,
and 24th July 1913, pages 36.
For more about Mirza Abbas Ali Baig see
this obituary. The India Council mentioned here was a
body appointed by the British government.
Khwaja Kamal-ud-Dins lecture on
Woman, from Judaism to Islam at the Lyceum club,
London, May 1913